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Making Webinars and Presentations Sales 2.0

24 March 2009

Since my book was released a few months ago, I’ve had many opportunities to  participate in Web and speaking events on the topic of Sales 2.0. While I am grateful for the invitations to  spread the important message of reinventing sales to achieve better results, something has been troubling me:  the typical approach many of us take to presentations is best described as Sales 1.0.  Sales 2.0 is about collaborative, two-way communication and sharing of ideas with prospects and customers.   Sales 1.0 describes the traditional feature/benefit-oriented pitches or presentations that we often make in one direction – to our customer or audience – without engaging them and letting them tell us about themselves and their business objectives.

Isn’t the PowerPoint presentation the ultimate Sales 1.0 offender, whether given face-to-face or online?

Robin Carey, CEO of Social Media Today, and I discussed this dilemma, in preparation for the upcoming March 31 webinar she asked me to join, along with Mark Woolen from Oracle and Christopher Carfi from Cerado.  Robin, being immersed in the world of social media and not one to take a traditional approach,  explained that the webinar would be a highly interactive Q&A Panel.  She would encourage  participants to live chat their questions during the event.  These approaches are right in line with Sales 2.0 philosophy.  Robin emphasized that she expects the conversation to be lively and for the speakers to talk over one another at times, like in real life.  I thought immediately of David Mamet’s plays.

The “Maximizing Customer Relationships through Technology and Social Media” panel I’m sharing with Jim Calhoun, CEO of PopularMedia, this Thursday, March 26 for MENG (Marketing Executives’ Networking Group) will follow a similar format, with moderator David Schneider asking us questions rather than us giving slide shows. David emphasized, “in an effort to encourage as much audience interaction as possible and evolve to topics that interest them, I will try to initiate discussions and turn to the folks in the crowd for their questions frequently.” Chris Kenton, founder of the Social Media Breakfast San Francisco and his own startup, SocialRep, came to the same conclusion about the event he organized last month.  He interviewed me Michael Krasny-style, inviting audience members to chime in after he posed some of the most thought-provoking questions I’ve been asked since Larry Ellison interviewed me for my first job at Oracle in 1980. I have to admit that our decision to do an interview was influenced by the fact that the venue for the event – a hip bar in downtown San Francisco – didn’t have much in the way of audio/visual equipment, making a slide presentation problematic, but we turned this “bug” into a “feature”.  Chris went a step further into Sales 2.0-thinking by inviting a professional videographer to tape the interview, which he later posted online.

As I look forward to future speaking opportunities, I am still searching for ways to re-think the standard and expected method of communicating a message to a group audience.  When I was approached to to be part of InsideView’s Sales 2.0 webinar series, I balked at the idea of a giving a traditional pitch. As we explored ideas, I had a Sales 2.0 suggestion: let’s include a customer, who would describe a personal experience accelerating sales with Sales 2.0 practices.  We are now in the process of planning a program for April 21 that will be more in line with another key Sales 2.0 message: be customer-focused.

My first Bay Area bookstore appearance is coming up April 2.  Any thoughts on how to prepare for Author Appearance 2.0?

What Sales 2.0 practices have you been incorporating into your presentations and webinars? What results have you seen?